Legislation authored by Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) and signed into law Oct. 5 will provide more transparency in the deliberations and decisions of local legislative bodies.
"Senate Bill 343, which was signed last week by Governor Schwarzenegger, furthers the fundamental purpose of the Ralph M. Brown Act," Negrete McLeod said.
The bill requires that any document designated as a public record, pertaining to an agenda item up for discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the body that is distributed to a majority of the members of a local agency within 72 hours of the meeting be made available for public inspection without delay.
"The last-minute release of agenda packet materials impedes informed debate," said Negrete McLeod. "SB 343 requires these last-minute documents be provided for public inspection as soon as they are distributed to the members of the body.
The Brown Act was enacted in 1953 by the California State Legislature in an effort to safeguard the public's right to access and participate in government meetings within the State. The Brown Act requires, among other things, that local agencies post agendas for their regular open sessions in a public place 72 hours in advance to give the public a chance to participate in the decision-making process.
Writings that are designated public records that are distributed during a public meeting shall be made available for public inspection at that meeting, if prepared by the local agency or a member of its legislative body, or after the meeting if prepared by some other person.
The legislation takes effect July 1, 2008.
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